SCU Marlins remain semi bound
THE WIN was far from pretty but Southern Cross University remains on target for a maiden MNC Rugby semi final appearance after today's 8-7 win over Kempsey at Crescent Head.
The Marlins trailed 7-3 at the break but a try to evergreen No.8 Paul Harrison put them into the lead and dogged defence held the advantage for the rest of the session.
"Not very lovely to look at but very effective just the same," coach Dave Nicol noted.
"The boys hung in and hung in ... they didn't panic when the pressure came on and I can't tell you how pleased I was to hear that whistle come at the end."
Nicol paid the Cannonballs the ultimate compliment by saying the home side's backline attack had for once outgunned his highly-rated phalanx of speedsters and tricksters.
"Kempsey took so many opportunities and kept breaking our line," he said.
"Scrambling defence kept saving us.
"Our set piece defence was pretty ordinary but our scrambling was awesome and got us out of trouble many times."
For some reason, Kempsey couldn't hold on to the ball to complete the movement.
"They could have easily swamped us but those last passes kept going down, which helped us get away with it," Nicol said.
"Lucky they proved just as scrappy with the ball as we were."
Nicol admits he was surprised how much the two week break took out of his charges.
"I thought it wouldn't be a problem but I was wrong," he added.
"While we've moved five points clear of Kempsey we're still not certain of fourth place unless we finish the season with a big effort.
"The next two matches against Coffs and Port will be hard but we've got to really make sure of that last one with a win over South West Rocks."
Halfback Nathan Burley put in another strong effort while Harrison was again the outstanding player on the park.